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Archive 2013 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?
  
 
EverLearning
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


I shoot mostly wildlife. I have been known to do some lengthy hikes; 2 to 4 hours, but even 6 - 8 hours and a 12 hour one. If I am in an area with wildlife, I always have my long lens on the camera (currently 7D and 100-400) and have in my hands / in the cradle of my arm. A beautiful scenic shot is normally around for at least a minute or two depending on the light, but wildlife sometimes gives you only a second or two, so that's my reason for having the camera/lens at the ready.

I am giving very serious consideration to the new Sigma 120-300 2.8 Sport. I am convinced the lens is the right choice for me for my photography choices and style. The next challenge is how to carry the lens/TC/camera combo for extended durations, especially when hiking. This combo would be approximately 9.5LBs.

I have searched FM and only found two threads specific to the topic:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1238132/2
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1197138/1?keyword=carry,speed#11421696

But for the most part, the posters are carrying 70-200 2.8 or smaller. What about big setups?

I have looked at Cotton Carrier camera system, Black Rapid Sport and Carry Speed FS-Pro. It looks like the CC would place a combo of this size close to my chin and my belt line and likely be uncomfortable for those long walks. Seems to be a fair bit of concern about 'failure' with the BR. I have communicated with Carry Speed. They confirm for the weight, FS-Pro is their best, but then say it is rated only for 6LBs. Furthermore, "After I consulted our technical staff, they said if you use our uni-strap plus the FS-PRO together, they can hold up to 9lbs." Still slightly below my requirements.

It almost feels like a waste to me to carry the camera and lens in the backpack. By the time I unzip or unclip the backpack, I'd be lucky if I got a picture of animal scat, never mind the animal! I would love to know what people with the 120-300 2.8 or a 400 2.8 do when they are hiking through areas with wildlife.

Thanks!



Sep 25, 2013 at 04:07 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


When I'm walking in an area that I expect to encounter wildlife, I carry my 500/4L IS + 1D-series body cradled in my arms, upside-down by the tripod mount foot (RRS), or on a monopod, slung over a shoulder. When getting to and from the area, it's in a backpack.

I recently bought an UpStrap large-pad strap with heavy-duty rapid-release and kevlar web straps for the 500L, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.



Sep 25, 2013 at 05:02 AM
dgdg
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


I carry a supertele with a large strap over neck&shoulder, and support the lens somewhere with my hand against my side. I walk a mile or two with this without much issue. If I would be scrambling somewhere, it's in the pack. As Colwell said, going to/from it's in a backpack. I'm afraid to prop it on a tripod slung over my shoulder. Maybe I shouldn't be but I always take it off the support when changing locations. f2.8 is kinda fast and as a result heavy for its focal length, however I understand you came up with this as your ideal wildlife lens for hiking. The 400 DO is very easy to hike with compared to something like the 400 2.8. The 400 DO also takes a 1.4x well. The 300 2.8 is similar in size/weight to the 400 DO.


Sep 25, 2013 at 12:19 PM
anthonysemone
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


5D Mark III and 400/5.6 L hooked up via the tripod mount on the lens to my Cotton Carrier. Works like a charm when scrambling because both hands are free. Backup camera or other shooting equipment in the waist pack from the Think Tank Rotation and a Gregory pack for backpacking gear.


Sep 25, 2013 at 01:05 PM
anthonysemone
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


then of course there's always this http://buy.cottoncarrier.com/category-s/59.htm

Not sure how it works underneath a backpack straps, but it sure presents a far less dramatic profile than this:

http://www.sharpshooterindustries.com

I should add that I have to offset to my left the TT waist pack to create enough room for the 400/5.6 that will bump up against it if I don't move it.



Sep 25, 2013 at 01:16 PM
EverLearning
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


jcowell, when you have it on the monopod, is it directly attached to the monopod or do you use some form of movable head? If so, what type? Do you have any kind of additional connection between you had the camera (strap around neck, safety strap attached to camera body or lens, etc.)?

dgdg, my wording may not have been optimal I decided the 120-300 was the best lens for my long lens requirements, for which wildlife is the main use. The longer hikes are only a part of my wildlife shooting but are where I have the greatest concern in handling the weight. It's not that I identified it specifically as my 'ideal wildlife lens for hiking', although other than weight I am very excited about it. The overall weight that I would be carrying on my person is also not a concern, as I have done 6 - 12 hour hikes with 20LBs of gear, food and water. I am specifically concerned about how I carry the camera and lens in a sustainable and safe fashion while still having it at-the-ready for those brief moments of glorious opportunity.

anthonysemone, the 400 5.6 is 4.75LBs lighter than the 120-300 so unfortunately it doesn't give me a good sense of how realistic the Cotton Carrier is for the weight I would be asking it to carry. Where you might be able to provide some insight though is on how it 'sits' on you. The 400/5.6 is 10.1 inches long while the 120-300 is 11.5 inches long (both excluding the hood). I am about 5' 10" and am curious/concerned about how close the camera would be to my chin and the hood to my belt line, and what implications this might have for comfort, especially while walking.

Thanks for the replies so far everybody!



Sep 25, 2013 at 04:39 PM
anthonysemone
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


While I haven't measured the distances, when mounted to the tripod foot, the back of the camera is right below my chin, encouraging me to have really good posture. And without the hood, the lens overlaps my belt line by about an inch. The longer I hike, the more demanding the load becomes, so I expect with that weight differential, it is likely to become more so demanding on one's lower back. Of course, on me the 120-300 would likely overlap more. I should note that I'm 5'7", 157 with a 31.5" waist and I'm very short-waisted with no middle age belly of any kind.

The harness itself poses no particular problems even when under the straps of my Gregory pack, although making use of the Gregory's sternum strap is a pain in the arse; I just have not found a good way to do attach it so I just don't use it. Once the whole rig is strapped up firmly, there is minimal movement of the lens and body in association with the body movements of backpacking, but removing the rig and replacing it does have a learning curve, at least for me, when I've not used it in awhile. I should mention also that the entire rig protrudes substantially from my sternum and it leaves no doubt in the mind of an observer that I'm carrying quite a rig!

HTH,

tony



Sep 25, 2013 at 06:09 PM
dgdg
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


I'm eager to know what you discover as the best carry method!


Sep 25, 2013 at 06:19 PM
mmarconi
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


I hike all the time a 300mm f2.8 (with and without a TC's).

Tried a Cotton Carrier, didn't like the weight distribution also the above equipment was just too long to be comfortable in that position.

I now use a BlackRapid #7. Sometimes hike all day maybe covering 8 to 10 miles. This system works really well, the strap is connected to the lens foot which is positioned at 270 degrees to the camera body so when I bring the camera to eye the foot is actually resting on my wrist with my palm cradling the lens at the front element. I also adjust the the length of the strap so the lens foot is at the same level as the 2nd knuckle of my right hand, this allows me to periodically take the weight of the shoulder by simply wrapping my fingers around lens foot and lifting a little (hope that makes sense).

I've tried the strap when using a backpack and never came up with a comfortable setup. When using the strap if I need to take other equipment I'll use a waist pack.

When I need to use a backpack then I attach the same combo (or a 500mm) to my monopod with a tilt head. I've found I can comfortably hike quite a distance this way. The shoulder straps of the backpack actually provide additional cushion for the monopod when it's slung over the shoulder.

Concerning BlackRapid strap failures, I've been using one for years without a problem. As long as you check the connections once in a while and take common sense precautions I can't see how a failure could occur. My guess is that most of the reported instances were user error.

Mike



Sep 25, 2013 at 09:42 PM
EverLearning
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


Great post mmarconi. Thanks.

I guess one thing that still concerns me is that the 300 2.8 is about 2.3LBs lighter than the 120-300 2.8. The 500 f/4 is actually quite close in weight to the 120-300. Have you ever carried it on your BR, and if so, how did that work out.

I gather when you say BR #7, you are referring to the BR Curve (RS-7). I was considering the BR Sport, which looks like it would distribute the weight a bit better. Just curious, do you have any problems with the #7 wanting to slide off your shoulder (one of the things the Sport seeks to address)?

I have to admit to not being clear on what you mean by the lens foot is positioned 270 degrees to the camera body and that the foot rests on your wrist with palm cradling the lens. Would you have a picture or perhaps could you take another crack at describing this?

What was it about the #7 that made using it in combination with a backpack an uncomfortable setup?

What type of tilt head do you use on your monopod? Are you happy with it?

Do you use any kind of additional connection or safety strap when using your RS #7? Your monopod with the tilt head?

Thank again!



Sep 25, 2013 at 10:56 PM
 

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Psychic1
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


I use this with the 1DIII and 400L 5.6 and have never had a problem.

http://www.adorama.com/CSLRSSG.html

http://www.adorama.com/CSLRCL.html



Sep 25, 2013 at 11:16 PM
mmarconi
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


EverLearning wrote:
Great post mmarconi. Thanks.


I guess one thing that still concerns me is that the 300 2.8 is about 2.3LBs lighter than the 120-300 2.8. The 500 f/4 is actually quite close in weight to the 120-300. Have you ever carried it on your BR, and if so, how did that work out.

Looked at the specs, didn't realize the new Sigma was that heavy, I have a Nikon 300 f2.8 VR which weighs 6.2 lbs so roughly 1.2lbs lighter than the Sigma. I've rarely used the BR with the 500 it's mostly on the monopod or tripod. About the only time I shoot it handheld is for eagles along the Mississippi river which means a short walk from the car to where I shoot, just carry it by the lens foot. Even for eagles in flight I prefer the 300 with a 1.4 or 1.7 TC.

I gather when you say BR #7, you are referring to the BR Curve (RS-7). I was considering the BR Sport, which looks like it would distribute the weight a bit better. Just curious, do you have any problems with the #7 wanting to slide off your shoulder (one of the things the Sport seeks to address)

Yes the RS-7 with curve, I don't think the sport was available when I bought the strap, it was a while ago. I know some guys much prefer the sport, been told the camera doesn't swing around as much. To tell the truth I never had a problem with the camera wanting to swing much on me, I usually have my right hand resting on as I walk. The strap doesn't slide at all, really stays put, both while moving and when raising the camera for a shot, it's my favorite feature of BlackRapid straps. You do have to spend a little time getting it adjusted right (length and stops).

I have to admit to not being clear on what you mean by the lens foot is positioned 270 degrees to the camera body and that the foot rests on your wrist with palm cradling the lens. Would you have a picture or perhaps could you take another crack at describing this?

I'll take another shot at explaining If you have the lens mounted, viewing the camera from the back I move the tripod collar so the lens foot is at the 9:00 o'clock position and lock. Then adjust the length of the strap so when the camera is hanging at you side and your arm (same side as camera) is in a relaxed position at your side you want the bottom of lens foot to fall about where your 2nd knuckle is. This way all you have to do is grab the foot by wrapping your fingers around it and lift a little to give your shoulder a rest. Should have also said I have a Wimberely replacement foot on the lens which has a longer foot making it easier to grab. (Kirk and Really Right stuff are the same).

I actually have a small Kirk clamp attached to the BR strap. Use the clamp to attach the lens via the foot, easy on and off. I've thought about using LockTite on the threads between the BR FastnerR and the Kirk clamp, but again I've never had a problem. I do have all my camera gear insured though

What was it about the #7 that made using it in combination with a backpack an uncomfortable setup?

If you put the backpack on first the shoulder harnesses will keep the BlackRapid from its proper position on your back throwing most of the weight back on your neck, not comfortable at all. If you but the BR on first then the backpack's shoulder harnesses will get in the way when raising the camera for a shot as they will be over the BR strap.

What type of tilt head do you use on your monopod? Are you happy with it?

I use a Feisol monopod (large one) with a Kirk monopod head, it's fairly new. Wife got it for me last year. Absolutely love the head, makes shooting from a monopod a joy. Can't say enough good about. It locks down like a rock with just a quick turn on the tension know. It handles my 300 or 500 with ease, no movement at all when locked down.

Do you use any kind of additional connection or safety strap when using your RS #7? Your monopod with the tilt head?

I don't use any of the safety straps other suggest, never felt the need and I don't like to overcomplicate things while I'm shooting.

I don't think you can go wrong with a BR strap and their relatively inexpensive as camera gear goes.

I went through the same process you now find yourself in, read everything I could find, tried lots of different approaches, the BR is great. The other straps mentioned in this thread are probably just as good, the key to adjust them to your style of shooting. That said I find myself going the monopod route way more often than the strap anymore. It's just easier to carry heavy equipment all day through the woods, gives you a little more stability then handheld, is fairly quick to shoot with and it's easy to pop the camera/lens off it when the need arises (BIF).

Hope that helps.

Mike



Sep 26, 2013 at 12:36 AM
anthonysemone
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


With respect to the BR 7 it did a wonderful job of scraping off the finish on the rear edge of the bottom plate of my D700, but I never had any concern with it coming loose so as to have the camera/lens fall off. When I was hiking, I held the camera/lens with my right hand and so long as the trail I was on did not involve scree, rocks, water flowing over moss on the rocks and reasonable angle of incline, I had no problem with that way of carrying my gear. As the weather went to shite, elevation increased, angle of attack of the trail went up, etc. etc. it became more of a challenge to me to negotiate the trail while simultaneously working to stay upright. Next hike I went on it was with the Cotton gear and never had an issue. YMMV.


Sep 26, 2013 at 12:51 AM
EverLearning
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


mmarconi, thanks for the follow up answers. They are soooo appreciated!

For some reason I thought you were shooting Canon. The Nikon 300mm lens is closer to the 120-300 in weight so it is a pretty good comparison. Your second crack at explaining the 270 is very clear and makes sense. The Kirk monopod isn't cheap but it looks amazing. If can handle even half the 80LBs they claim, that would be impressive.

anthonysemone, I will check out the cotton carrier, but it seems less and less likely to be a good solution for me and this lens. With the 120-300 being about 1.4 inches longer, with your camera being just under your chin and the lens overlapping your belt line plus the extra length of having the hood on, it sounds like I would have a chin rest rather than a camera carrying system!



Sep 26, 2013 at 03:32 AM
mmarconi
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


anthonysemone wrote:
With respect to the BR 7 it did a wonderful job of scraping off the finish on the rear edge of the bottom plate of my D700, but I never had any concern with it coming loose so as to have the camera/lens fall off. When I was hiking, I held the camera/lens with my right hand and so long as the trail I was on did not involve scree, rocks, water flowing over moss on the rocks and reasonable angle of incline, I had no problem with that way of carrying my gear. As the weather went to shite,
...Show more

Anthony, I forgot about that issue, your right when attached to a camera body the BR system can mar the finish. Know guys that have had the same issue, some now put gaffers tape around the carabiner. I haven't experienced the issue because I only use the strap attached to telephoto lens with a tripod collar.

Another good point about trail conditions, I live in the midwest and unless I'm hiking in one of the major river valleys the topography is pretty tame compared to the mountains in your area.

I did not intend disparage the Cotton Carrier system. I still have one and when I was shooting with the Nikon 300mm f4 AF-S it was great. I'm keeping it thinking I may buy that new 80-400 someday. But my 300mm f2.8 with TC and gripped body comes in at roughly 9lbs and 18+ inches in length, the CC just didn't work for me with this rig.

Like I said when going out for wildlife and covering some distance I prefer to use a monopod, find it the most efficient/comfortable means with heavier equipment.

Mike



Sep 26, 2013 at 12:29 PM
anthonysemone
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


Mike,

BR save for that issue worked very well for me on a couple of trips to Paris. I ended up black electricians tape to wrap around the carabiner. One gentleman here reported he contacted BR and had the paint scrape fixed at BR's cost. I figured it was sort of like when I was riding my BMW K1200S and scraped the fairing while taking out a garbage can - at 100mph, nobody will ever notice Unlike some other folks though I never feared that the attachment would break or loosen, but then, I always checked it for tightness before going out with it. I do the same now with the Sun Snipers I have.

I didn't take your CC comments as disparaging. I think the vest like arrangement is very body type dependent in terms of how structurally sound it feels while carrying a heavy lens. HEHE, I mistakenly noted that I used it with my 5D MkIII - talk about wishful thinking, I'm awaiting my 5D MkIII now - I had used it with my 7D and the 400/5.6. I doubt that it was not different from what it will be with the 5DIII, and indeed, it felt like I had a really nice chin rest using the tripod mount. i didn't try it yet with the slanted mount attached to the camera body.

tony



Sep 26, 2013 at 12:49 PM
EverLearning
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


Thanks to everybody for their replies. I am reasonably confident what I will do for a strap system and have a good idea on what to upgrade my monopod head to.

Still debating what to do on the camera upgrade, but I've got the lens, TCs and strap choices worked out. Inching forward...



Sep 27, 2013 at 03:12 PM
3iron
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


The Cotton Carrier is a great set up. I use it with a 1DX or 5DIII and 400 5.6 quite a lot. It is not a very good way to carry a lens much longer or heavier than the above.
I'm like the others above, my longer lenses, 300 2.8 and 600II are carried in pack to where I plan to shoot. If I want to move around they are cradled in my arm. They can actually be carried quite ways like that and allows quick access.
The Sigma will be about the size of my 300 and really is not that bad to hand carry.



Sep 27, 2013 at 04:32 PM
EverLearning
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


3iron, if you can 'hand carry' a 9lb to 10lb setup for 12, 8, 4 or even 2 hours of hiking and still be able to hold the camera steady to shoot, your nickname must be 'Arnie'! I work out regularly but don't have the biceps of a bodybuilder. I have carried by 7D and 100-400 like that, but that combo is about 5lbs lighter, so from that experience I know there is no way I would hand carry a body and the 120-300 on a long hike.


Sep 27, 2013 at 05:19 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · 'Sling'ing a camera/large lens setup?


Hey EverLearning,

In order for me to learn effectively, I've found it's important to read (i.e. listen) effectively. 3iron and myself both talked about walking with the big lens cradled in our arms. We also both mentioned that this was after getting to the area where we anticipated good chances to take the shots that we carted the big gear there for.

Maybe you don't want to hear (i.e read) that there is no magic transportation solution. If you want the big gear to always be "ready to shoot" while you're on a long hike, then you should probably start pumping iron, and glass. OTOH, you could carry lighter gear, or rent a sky hook.



Sep 27, 2013 at 11:51 PM
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